How to remove a tick from a dog
What do ticks look like?
Ticks are small, round, eight-legged insects that vary in size (from 1 mm to 1 cm). They are grey/brown in colour and feed on blood... Charming, isn't it? Their body becomes darker and bigger after feeding. Unlike fleas, ticks do not jump or fly. Ticks are usually found in woods, meadows and moors, but they can also be found in your garden, especially if you live in an area where wildlife is abundant. Ticks are most common from spring to autumn, but they can be active all year round.
What are the symptoms of a tick on a dog?
You can check your dog for ticks by running your hand over its coat and looking for small bumps, especially around the head, feet, ears, groin, armpits or neck.
Sometimes a tick can get into your dog's ears. If you see your dog shaking its head a lot, look carefully inside. If you don't see anything and he continues to shake his head, take him to a vet who can help and give you some insight into your dog's situation.
How do you remove a tick from a dog?
If you spot a tick on your dog's body, it should be removed as soon as possible as ticks can carry disease. However, this must be done in the correct way, otherwise parts of the tick may remain attached to your dog's skin, which can cause inflammation or infection requiring antibiotics or even surgery to remove it.
If you find a tick on your dog's skin, you should not
- Squeeze the body of the tick
- Try to burn it
- Pull directly on the tick
- Try to smother it with petroleum jelly or any other substance.
To remove a tick from a dog, you must follow a very specific method, which is to purchase a tick removal device available at most pet stores. These devices allow you to remove the tick from your dog by twisting it, which is the safest way to remove the entire tick. Tick removal should always be done carefully and slowly to protect your dog from the risk of the tick regurgitating the blood it has sucked or having parts of it left on your dog's skin:
- Wash your hands.
- Gently separate the fur around the tick.
- Slowly push your tick remover under the tick.
- When you feel you have a good grip on the tick, start turning clockwise as many times as necessary until the tick comes off.
- Wrap the tick in a piece of cloth and throw it away. Then wash your hands again thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
- Then clean the affected area with a mild antiseptic suitable for dogs.
Monitor the area for a few days and if there are any signs of inflammation, pain or if your dog does not seem to be feeling well, consult your vet as soon as possible.
How can ticks be prevented in dogs?
First of all, regular flea, worm and tick control is an absolutely vital part of being a responsible parent and protecting yourself, your dog and your loved ones, especially your children. The first step is obviously to always check your dog's skin and coat after every nature walk you take together.
There are preventative treatments available in the form of tablets, injections (given by the vet) or an oily substance applied to the back of the neck (which you can apply yourself) and these should usually be given every few weeks. Each method prevents fleas and ticks from settling in your puppy's coat and skin. There are also flea and tick collars available on the market. If you're not sure what to choose or which brand would be best for your dog, consult your vet.
However, be careful when starting a treatment for your dog: always read the instructions very carefully before giving your dog any tick, flea or worm treatment, especially if you also have a cat. Some tick treatments designed for dogs can be very dangerous, and in some cases fatal, for cats.
It is particularly important to protect your dog with a preventive product if you are travelling abroad, as ticks from other countries can carry other serious diseases.
What is Lyme disease and how does it affect dogs?
Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection that is often carried by ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include
- High temperature/fever
- Lameness (which may be intermittent)
- Reluctance to eat
- A bad temper
- Swelling of joints and/or lymph nodes
- A bullseye-like rash around the area where the tick was bitten.
If your pet has any of these symptoms and you suspect Lyme disease, call your vet urgently. If Lyme disease in dogs is left untreated or misdiagnosed, it can leave your dog with lifelong chronic complications... This is why preventive treatment is vital.
Can ticks bite humans?
Yes, ticks can bite humans too, so it's important to treat them as soon as you see them. If you often walk your dog in the woods, it is advisable to wear long-sleeved clothing and tuck your trousers into your socks to protect your skin from ticks. You can also use insect repellent spray on yourself before going out with your puppy. However, avoid spraying the same lotion on your dog as it could be toxic to him.
Humans can also get Lyme disease from a tick bite.
tick bite. If you have been bitten by a tick or have been walking in the woods and are suffering from headaches, fatigue, joint/muscle pain and/or a circular rash, contact your doctor who will most likely prescribe antibiotics. If you ignore the signs, you are at increased risk of developing arthritis, meningitis, nerve damage and/or facial paralysis.